Think Tank: A Short Story Collection

By Arim

Copyright ©, 2010

All Rights Reserved

Any duplication or plagarization of this story of any kind is by definition false, and not to be taken seriously unless it's internet joking or parody.

Any grammar problems and spacing problems in this story are reflective of the time it was written in, and not reflective of the author's writing abilities. Please use the zoom in feature on your computer or your handheld device if you are having trouble reading this story.

The Spy Fox

A voice sounded, "what day is it today? Oh, the start of summer. Perfect!" A long back haired pre-teen girl named Sabria was just getting out of bed, looking at her calendar.

After a short while, Sabria heard her mother call, "Sabria! Breakfast!"

Sabria called back, "soon!" After finding something to wear, she went downstairs to eat breakfast. After she put away the cookie jar, she saw a piece of paper on the counter. Sabria brought this piece of paper to her room to look at, right before her parents came into the kitchen. She realizes that it's a note from her mother. This is what it had on it: U+ND+UR+(T-EA)+I+(DICTATOR-KI)+S+4+A+(3-HEE)+I+(3.14-I)+10+(O-H)*2.

She just recalled something with amusement. Her parents love to challenge her with rebuses any chance they get. Sabria figured, "hmm…A rebus has pictures and letters that sound what they mean. U, that sounds like "you", "+" is a space, ND…hmm. Better come back to that one. UR…oh, that's "your"..."

Eventually, at 7:00 AM, she deciphered the message, "you need your things for a trip 10:00." She muttered, "clever, using 2 O's to indicate a time in a rebus. I need to pack right away."

Meanwhile, her parents were eating breakfast. Plus packing, reading through the mail, and looking up info on the internet about the hotel they and Sabria were going to stay in, because Sabria's mom and dad needed to go to work in a building within that area. Her mom pointed out in a whisper, "hey, look at this. It's from our son, Sonim.":

Dear dad, I'm having fun in spy school. Today, we did a tournament to test our spy skills, and I almost won.

Cassie won overall. At least I exercised my skills enough to come in 2nd. To find out what I won for coming in second, crack this code I made up:


025 024+025+023+015+010+025+023+015

003+017+006+018 012+021+013 025+012+022

024+021+006+006+021+008

007+010+001 019+025+019+022+021+006+007


Sabria's mom commented with a chuckle, "like father, like son."

Sabria's dad insisted, "we'll figure it out later. Let's go pack."

While Sabria's mom and dad finished up, so did she…right on time. Sabria always wondered why her parents kept going on business trips and leaving behind babysitters. Even more strangely was the fact that they usually doubled as tutors...in random locations across town. However, this time, babysitters weren't available. They all went into the car with their packed stuff. Her mom was about to start the car, when she asked, "did anyone forget something?"

Sabria's dad replied mysteriously, "be right back." He came back with the mail, to cover up the letter from her 12-year-old brother Sonim. He decided to give it to her mom. With that, her mom started the car. As usual, they didn't talk much. The car shook the mail towards the back, where Sabria was seated.

She thought, "hmm…they already read this letter. Maybe I'll look at it soon." Sabria took it with her feet and pushed it under her seat. Quickly, she barely pushed the mail back into place. Meanwhile, at the hotel...

A figure muttered, "this is the right place." She was in an elevator shaft, on top of a trapdoor on an elevator…nicknamed the Spy Fox. She was listening to a conversation in the elevator, chuckling to herself.

Another voice sounded, "I don't think the Spy Fox is even in this building. We checked every floor, Mr. Storgan. You must have been having nightmares. I mean, who hasn't heard of the Spy Fox in America?"

Mr. Storgan assured her, "head of police, I'm sure he was in here…the same person who shut down WIA and was involved in a car theft ring…the same one who stole my main computer and all the card keys for each room in this hotel! This is why I had to buy new cards and a new computer. I want this crook caught…do you hear me?!"

The police chief pointed out, "everyone in the world wants her caught, but there's no clue that points to her at this location. Sorry, but I think you need to get your head checked before you call in more false alarms."

Mr. Storgan insisted, "but I'm..." Before he said more, the head of police got out of the elevator.

The Spy Fox muttered, "good thing I usually take every single clue and hide them where nobody could find them…the hiding places I invented myself!"

She checked to see if the coast was clear. She saw the manager still below.

She thought, "if he's going to see me, then I'll capture him and run the hotel myself…until he starves. I'm sorry, but I can't let the police know what I'm going to do to the Spy Institute of Knowledge…until too late."

Mr. Storgan looked up and saw her to his horror. She quickly took out a remote control and pressed a button on it. A net shot out of a compartment in the elevator with bolas attached on each corner. The man was trapped and knocked out from the impact. The Spy Fox lowered herself into the elevator by swinging into it with acrobatics.

She pressed another button on the wall that had a sign hanging from it labeled "Closed for Repairs". The elevator dropped underground. She dragged Mr. Storgan off the elevator and down a tunnel.

Meanwhile, back in the car, they stopped at an Arcade World for lunch.

It was like an arcade version of a food court. Even the food orders were done through arcade-like consoles on both ends of each table, but there were still waiters and waitresses to bring the actual food over and pick up the check. There were also regular arcade consoles attached to most of the walls and food booths where the waiters and waitresses could pick up the prepared food.

When 10-year-old Sabria finished eating her fast food meal, she realized that her parents were still not done. She checked, "can I go to the bathroom?"

Her dad suggested, "yes, but be back soon." Sabria snuck into the staff's bathroom instead when no one was looking and went through its backdoor. She returned to the car and searched for the letter under her seat. She stuffed it in her pocket and looked inside through a window.

Sabria deduced, "good. They're still eating." She snuck back the same way quickly. She tumbled to the citizens' bathrooms and acted as though she just came from them. Sabria went back to her seat, catching her breath. She went on, "told you I would be back. Now, can I play some games to help me wait until you're done?"

Her mom suggested, "sure, but I got one question."

Sabria asked, "which is what?"

Her mom went on, "why are you breathing hard?"

Sabria lied, "well, I just wanted to check to see if the parking meter was near expiration."

Her dad chuckled in amusement. He assured her, "Sabria Stone, why don't you leave it to us to worry about the financial issues?"

Her mom went on, "yeah, you don't have to worry about this kind of stuff until you're 18. You can go now." Sabria nodded. She headed to an arcade game labeled "LAVABALL". She also had the strangest feeling that there was something sinister going on. Sabria lost this thought when she had fun playing the arcade game.

Twenty minutes later…Her dad insisted, "Sabria, we got to go! We really got to get to the hotel immediately."

Sabria deduced, "all right, but first, I'm going to submit my score." She did just that and went into the car. The car started again. Sabria took out the letter and read it quietly in deep shock:

Dear dad, I'm having fun in spy school. Today, we did a

tournament to test our spy skills, and I almost won. Cassie won overall. At least I exercised my skills enough to come in 2nd. To find out what I won for coming in second, crack this code I made up:


025 024+025+023+015+010+025+023+015 003+017+006+018 012+021+003 025+012+022 024+021+006+006+021+008 007+010+001

019+025+019+022+021+006+007


She thought, "spy School?! A tournament testing spy skills? Came in 2nd? To find out what I won, crack this code I made up?! I thought my parents said that he passed elementary school, middle school, and high school in 2 years because he was the smartest genius child anyone had seen. This was while living in hotels near his schools, because my parents had a fight with him and he moved out. They said that they were too upset to explain where he lived and forbid me to go there because of that. It seems there's more to this than meets the eye…but are they giving me tutors to try to protect me from the same fate, or to send me to the same fate? Well, I'll try to solve that code later." She put the letter back into her pockets. She glanced out of a nearby window, thinking, "if you aren't where my parents say you were, then where are you now? And are my parents even real?!"

After a long while, they stopped at a Pasta Palace for dinner.

It was a restaurant that looked to be actually made of pasta, but it was just painted to look that way inside and out. Even the furniture looked that way, but thankfully the food wasn't fake. Sabria got a spaghetti maze puzzle and brought it into the car after eating. She checked, "can I do a spaghetti maze puzzle in the car?"

Her mom decided, "okay. I'll give you your pencil and clipboard."

First, Sabria solved the maze puzzle. Next, when her parents weren't looking, she snuck the letter onto the clipboard.

She thought, "now I can decode this message. Usually, one letter words would be an I or an A. So, the number 025 must be an I or an A. Plus, I never heard of a prize that doesn't start with A, so I'll try that."

She did. This is what that coded part of the letter showed with 025 as the letter A:

A 024+A+023+015+010+A+023+015 003+017+006+018 012+021+003 A+012+022 024+021+006+006+021+008 007+010+001 019+A+019+022+021+006+007

She thought, "hmm…_A_A_ matches the word backpack, and Sonim's 12. I'll try it." The coded part looked like this with the word backpack as the 2nd word:

A B+A+C+K+P+A+C+K 003+017+006+018 012+021+003 A+012+022 024+021+006+006+021+008 007+010+001 019+A+019+022+021+006+007

Sabria went on, "now I'll change each 024 to the letter B, 023 to the letter C, 015 to the letter K, and 010 to the letter P.":

A B+A+C+K+P+A+C+K 003+017+006+018 012+021+003 A+012+022 B+021+006+006+021+008 007+P+001 019+A+019+022+021+006+007

She figured, "_P_ matches the pre-mentioned word spy.":

A B+A+C+K+P+A+C+K 003+017+006+018 012+021+003 A+012+022 B+021+006+006+021+008 S+P+Y 019+A+019+022+021+006+007

Sabria continued, "now to change each 007 to S and 001 to Y.":

A B+A+C+K+P+A+C+K 003+017+006+018 012+021+003 A+012+022 8+021+006+006+021+008 S+P+Y019+A+022+019+021+006+S

She concluded, "hmm…_A_ matches the word gadgets.":

A B+A+C+K+P+A+C+K 003+017+006+018 012+021+003 A+012+022 B+021+006+006+021+008 S+P+Y G+A+D+G+E+T+S

She figured, "now to change each 019 to G, 022 to D, 021 to E, and 006 to T.":

A B+A+C+K+P+A+C+K 003+017+T+018 012+E+003

A+012+D B+E+T+T+E+008 S+P+Y G+A+D+G+E+T+S

Sabria realized in amusement, "wait a minute. 025=A, 024=B, 023=C, 022=D, and 021=E. The difference between each number is 1. That means that 020=F, 019=G, 018=H, 017=I, 016=J, 015=K, 014=L, 013=M, 012=N, 011=0, 010=P, 009=Q, 008=R, 007=S, 006=T, 005=U, 004=V, 003=W, 002=X, 001=Y, and 000=Z.":

A B+A+C+K+P+A+C+K W+I+T+H N+E+W A+N+D

B+E+T+T+E+R S+P+YG+A+D+G+E+T+S

Sabria decided, "now I get rid of the pluses and add spaces between words to figure it out.":


A backpack with new and better spy gadgets.


She thought the rest of the way to the hotel, "now I'm sure my brother's a spy, and he wrote dear dad in his letter. That means that my father's a spy! Well, like father, like brother…but what about my mom?"

When they finally got to the hotel at 1:00 AM, she folded up her notes and gave the clipboard back to her dad. She put the pencil, notes, and letter in her pockets. Sabria followed her parents into the hotel. Before she knew it, she was already in guestroom 21. She unpacked her things.

However, while she was unpacking, the letter dropped out of one of her pockets.

It tumbled through the open door of guestroom #21 that she forgot to close.

After she unpacked, she went to close the door, when she noticed the letter on the floor. She picked it up, when she heard footsteps. She quickly walked into guestroom #21 and tried to close the door, but too late. She saw a man with green clothes and dark hair in front of her.

The figure suggested, "I think I saw you pick up something on the ground. This should go to the lost and found box, not in your hands."

Sabria pointed out, partly lying, "but you already found the owner. It's a letter from a friend of mine."

Mr. Storgan replied, "sorry, my mistake."

He left. Sabria closed the door. She suddenly realized in horror that she needed to put the letter back into the envelope without anyone else figuring out that it was missing in the first place somehow.

She just remembered that her mom said that she was going to go swimming on the top floor with her dad. She also recalled that her mother brings everything with her.

Sabria figured, "I'm gonna have to go to the top floor by using the elevator."

She went into the closest elevator, with only the letter in her pockets. She set it to go to the highest floor, number 4. Sabria exited the elevator and checked a map up ahead, which was pinned to the wall. She studied it to figure out which hallway led to the pool. She also saw another way to get there that doesn't have big glass windows.

Sabria headed down the hallway to the left and peeked through the little window on the door up ahead. She had to tip-toe to open it. She almost didn't see her parents in the pool, almost swimming underwater with their faces looking up to the sky. Sabria concluded, "perfect! They won't see me."

She opened the door to see the mail on the table on the opposite side of the pool. She wondered, "now how will I get this letter back in its envelope?"

After a short while, she had an idea. She went all the way back to her room to get her bathing suit and sunscreen. Sabria hid the sunscreen under the table on her way to the pool itself.

She asked her parents when they took a short break, "may I join you?"

Her dad suggested, "of course, come on in! But I suggest using that ladder nearby."

Sabria excused herself, "I will when I come back. I forgot my sunscreen, but I'll come back soon."

She headed to the table with the mail on it. She noticed an alarm device on it that could nearly pass as a car key. Sabria recalled in her head, "I almost forgot. Mom always puts an alarm device on her things when she takes things with her and leaves them near so she can hear it. Great! Now how do I put the letter back?"

She searched for a way to turn off the alert, but with no luck. She discovered that the envelope is not in the pile, so she searched around the table.

She heard footsteps behind her, so she turned around to find out if it's her parents. It wasn't to her relief. It was a pre-teen girl with a red bathing suit and shoulder length brown hair.

She asked, "looking for something?"

Sabria replied, "yes."

The stranger offered, "can I help?"

Sabria figured, "hmm…I guess."

The stranger asked, "so, what are we looking for?"

Sabria suggested, "I lost an envelope that's marked top secret, and it belongs to my parents. Probably a business deal. Also, I don't want them to know because they might get mad at me for losing it in the 1st place."

The other girl assured her, "your secret is safe with me."

Sabria checked, "so, what's your name?"

The other pre-teen revealed, "Amia. Yours?"

Sabria revealed, "Sabria. Now let's try to find it." They searched. Amia found it under another table nearby and gave it to Sabria.

Amia offered, "here it is."

Sabria responded with relief, "thanks. Maybe I'll see you later."

Amia suggested, "if I do, I'll wave to you."

Sabria replied, "sure." Amia left. Sabria placed the letter into the envelope. She put the envelope next to the mail, but accidentally triggered the alarm. She quickly got out the sunscreen from one of her pockets and positioned it next to the loud alarm. Sabria made up an excuse, "sorry, but I didn't see the alarm. How do you turn it off?!"

Her mom suggested, "allow me." She got out of the pool and walked up to the little alarm. She called out, "nothing to see here!" She pressed the little bumps on the car key with her fingernails to turn it off. Sabria's mom pointed out, "you have to be more careful."

Sabria replied with a sigh, "I'll do better next time." She put on her sunscreen and went to the nearby ladder to go into the pool. She had fun swimming with her parents in the pool...but the adventure was just beginning.

Meanwhile...the Spy Fox gloated, "yes! I have finished my message to the SIK." She was in an abandoned ballroom, where she made her own office. She put a message into a cylinder with a door on it. Strangely, the ancient black painted statues had glowing eyes and guns. The Spy Fox pushed another button with her remote and put the cylinder into the open tube. She closed it up and pushed a 3rd button. The cylinder shot up the tube.

The next morning, Sabria wakes up at 7:00 AM. She muttered, "it's 7:00. Great! I slept late." Sabria put on her clothes and went down to the food court built within the lobby with some money in her pocket (from her parents of course). She didn't see her parents in the food court, but she did see Amia in a seat by herself. Sabria bought some food, thinking her parents would return soon. She asked Amia, "mind if I join you?"

Amia assured her confidently, "not at all." Sabria sat in a seat next to her and checked, "slept late?"

Amia replied, "yep."

Sabria responded, "so have I." They both ate breakfast. She wondered, "why is there no recycling bin here?"

Amia assumed, "must not be in their budget, but you sound different than most kids my age…like some kind of genius."

Sabria assured her, "maybe…I don't know for sure though, I don't have much friends to be honest. So, what do you want to do now?"

Amia figured, "hmm…I've got an idea."

Sabria wondered, "what?"

Amia suggested, "well, there's an arcade on the 2nd floor. Would you want to come with me to play some?"

Sabria replied, "I would love to." They went to the 2nd floor together by using the elevator. Sabria was glad to finally have a friend outside of her family…yet couldn't help wondering where they were.

Amia curiously asked, "so, what arcade games do you like to play?"

Sabria deduced, "mostly Lavaball, Blast Battle, and Ultran Race."

Amia replied, "cool! Hey, we're on the 2nd floor already. Come on, I'll show you. This arcade has all those games, and also some other games and tokens to win prizes."

Sabria responded curiously, "nice…haven't seen one of those before."

Amia assured her, "you will."

Sabria replied, "sure." Amia showed her the way. When they got there, Sabria noticed some more arcade games: Volcano Surfing, Sliding Avalanche, and Game Show Smash. She wondered in amazement, "which ones should we play?"

Amia pointed out, "actually, you can do 2 player mode with each arcade game."

Sabria offered, "in that case, which one?"

Amia suggested, "how about Game Show Smash?"

Sabria answered, "okay, but how does it work?"

Amia pointed out, "basically, it's a virtual game show with good challenges and trivia, and you get 2 tokens of your choice for winning a virtual game show. Each game show is a level and controls are like in a platform game. There are also 2 buzzer buttons and controls that can be used to select answers to trivia."

Sabria figured, "let's do it."

At the same time...the Spy Fox concluded, "yes! My message is sent, and now I have two captured members of the SIK. Henchmen, make sure these two don't escape!" She was in a maze of tunnels and jail cells. The Spy Fox headed back to the elevator. When the statues from earlier started to patrol, Sira and Brangon took out an emergency box that said "To Sabria" on it. The words "from a friend" were written on the back.

Brangon suggested from their jail cell, "we forgot to give this to our daughter…she should at least get that back." One of the statues, literary as stubborn and dumb as stone, nodded and carried it to a backup elevator to deliver it personally.

Amia and Sabria had lost level 3 and were picking prizes to go with their tokens. Amia muttered with a sigh, "sorry I let you down."

Sabria assured her, "don't worry about it...it's not real. Do we have a game show token and a rock token though?"

Amia replied in better spirits, "I think we need to win a level on Sliding Avalanche to get a rock token."

Sabria checked, "do we have 4 game show tokens?"

Amia answered, "yes."

Sabria suggested, "good, because there's a box of instruction manuals for each arcade game. Maybe this way, we could play better than before."

Amia placed the tokens in the token slot in the prize machine and got the box of manuals in the output slot. Sabria glanced at a wall clock and offered, "can we squeeze some swimming before lunch?"

Amia replied, "sounds good to me. We'll meet each other by the pool at the big glass screen doors." Sabria nodded gladly. They headed straight to their rooms to get bathing suits on.

Meanwhile, the statue had snuck up behind a mailman to steal his clothes and tie him up under the checkout counter. The Spy Fox asked, "what's the meaning of this?!" The animate statue showed her the package. The Spy Fox chuckled evilly and figured, "so that's their secret weapon…their own daughter! We'll twist it into a trap she'll never forget."

Sabria was heading down to her room, when she saw a strange mailman delivering a package, knocking on room #21. No one responded. She asked the mailman, "why don't I give this package to my parents?"

The disguised statue answered, "all right." As it left the hotel, she realized something is seriously wrong. Not only did the mailman seem too dark skinned to be true, this package was addressed to her! She thought she was seeing things and put the package into her closet for later. Sabria put on her bathing suit. She got out her sunscreen, and after that, she went towards the pool to tell Amia what she got. Things seemed even stranger here. The other guests seemed to have left, as if the hotel was nearly abandoned. She looked down at a parking lot behind the hotel to see that almost every vehicle had vanished. She saw Amia already in the pool, her fears brushed aside.

Amia suggested, "come on in. The water's fine."

Sabria hinted, "I want to tell you something before I get in."

Amia checked, "what is it?"

Sabria went on, "actually, it's a number of things. One is that a mailman as dark as night knocked on my parent's door. My parents didn't even come out to get a package from him! Plus, I'm noticing that it seems as though everyone but us had gone home."

Amia replied in horror, "that's creepy."

Sabria continued, "the other thing is that the package wasn't for my parents…it was addressed to me instead!"

Amia asked, "I believe you, but where is the package now?"

Sabria suggested, "I have it stored in my room."

Amia asked, "well, what are we waiting for?" She got out of the pool to dry up. Suddenly, they heard an almost deafening sound below followed by sirens.

Sabria suggested, "let's go inside so we can hear ourselves think." What they didn't notice was police officers surrounding the place, being shot down by the statue henchmen. Sabria guided Amia to the box, both unaware of what's coming.

Amia assumed, "nice! But I think most of the guests trust the manager and went out to explore."

Sabria figured, "maybe."

Amia suggested, "let's open it."

Sabria added, "here's a spare pair of scissors that I have in case I lose the other." They cut the tape off of the box and opened it. They see inside the box a folded up piece of paper, a red envelope that had on it "Open to Trusted Eyes", a pencil, stick-it notes, and a cell phone.

Amia suggested, "the red envelope?" Sabria was about to open the envelope with her pair of scissors, when footsteps started faintly sounding. She continued and took out a letter addressed to her from it.

Sabria assured her, "I'll read it.":

Dear Sabria,

we are not in our hotel room. We don't know where we are, but we are underneath the hotel. These tools will help you find us…in fact, we've been training you for this since you were born. Trust your mom and dad on this. Good luck. There's someone gone bad you have to watch for from our past…the Spy Fox.

From, Sira and Brangon.

Sabria asked in panic, "what am I going to do about this?!"

Amia assured her, "relax, Sabria. We'll find them somehow."

Sabria insisted, "how do you look for someone underneath this hotel, and who's the Spy Fox?!" The footsteps got louder.

Amia realized, "they sound too precise to be human. Now what?!"

Sabria figured, trying to stay calm, "only one way to find out. Take deep breaths. This way."

She led Amia into the closet as the door to the room came open. Sabria closed the door and peeked through the keyhole.

She suggested, "look at everything else in the box…first the paper…maybe they'll be of use of finding out what's going on here while I check on the intruders."

Amia replied, "sure."

She examined everything. Sabria saw the statue henchmen to her horror.

She thought, "I knew something was wrong."

The henchmen tore at the place, searching for her.

Amia figured out some things: The pencil can act as a grappling hook coming out of its point by pressing a hidden button on it that says "ON". The other turns it off, pulling the grappling hook back in.

The cell phone works as a mini-computer and a scanner by using a concealed dial on its left side that switches the cell phone from phone mode to computer mode to scanner mode. The stick-it notes act as the thinnest cameras in the world, which could transmit to the computer mode. The folded up piece of paper was a map of a red line going all over (little did they know that the Spy Fox added this as a trap). It also had a coded message on it:


You're looking at these letters backwards.

A=8*(B-4)

M=(N-3)-4

Y=22

B=(C-7)+0

N=20

Z=21

C=(D*2)*2

O=B*D

D=(2*E)-1

P=6

E=F+ (-2+-6)

Q=D*E*D

F=2+(2*G)

R=H*E

G=(H+1)/2

S=A*E

H=(1+1)/2+1

T=C+B

I=J*(5+6)

U=26

J=(K/9)+0

V=B*B

K=L-(5*2)

W=24

L=M+(3*2)

X=N+D

17+7+2 16+6+22 10+15+23 26+16+2+16 8+20 2+19+2+25+8+17+15+14 17+15 17+7+2 26+20+3+2+14+4+14+15+26+20+3


Sabria checked what the equipment did. She suggested as they pocketed the contents, "let's see how strong the grappling hook is." Amia nodded as they held onto each other and the pencil gadget to use it to hide among the hung clothes. The statues kicked the door open and started searching it from top to bottom.

Amia suggested, "follow my lead." She and Sabria kicked off of the wall behind them as Sabria unlatched the hook. They tumbled right behind the statues as they started searching the clothes.

Sabria whispered, "run!" Amia quickly placed a stick-it note on a close by wall and joined Sabria by running out with her. The statues turned around and ran after them, gunshots behind them. Amia kept spreading out the stick-it notes around the hallways as they ran up to another hallway beyond some stairs. Sabria figured, "here's the cell phone computer…it might have a calculator in it to figure out the equations. I'll keep the notes going until the entire hotel's full of them."

Amia nodded. She wondered, "their bullets must run out by then, but what does "you're looking at those letters backwards" mean?"

Sabria deduced as more shots sounded, "hmm…I don't know, but the rest of the hotel's probably abandoned. You can use the back of the folded up paper to brainstorm." They tried hard to keep going, Sabria using the stick-it camera network to direct themselves past the randomly appearing robots. Yet it felt like the Olympics by the time they got to the 4th floor.

Amia deduced, "maybe if I do it from z to a. I'll try it.":


A=8*(B-4)

M=(N-3)-4

Y=22

B=(C-7)+0

N=20

Z=21

C=(D*2)*2

O=B*D

D=(2*E)-1

P=6

E=F+ (-2+-6)

Q=D*E*D

F=2+(2*G)

R=H*E

G=(H+1)/2

S=A*E

H=(I+1)/2+1

T=C+B

I=J*(5+6)

U=26

J=(K/9)+0

V=B*B

K=L-(5*2)

W=24

L=M+(3*2)

X=N+D


Sabria suggested, "that's good and all, but where should we hide to rest?"

Amia offered, "back of the food court?"

Sabria suggested, "from this high up, I might be able to at least stun them from up where the pool is. I'll distract them. Go!" Amia nodded and went into a nearby elevator while Sabria led the statue henchmen to the pool.

She figured, "maybe writing down the parts of the code key that don't have equations will help.":


A=8*(B-4)

M=(N-3)-4

Y=22

N=20

B=(C-7)+0

N=20

Z=21

P=6

C=(D*2)*2

O=B*D

U=26

D=(2*E)-1

P=6

W=24

E=F+ (-2+-6)

Q=D*E*D

Y=22

F=2+(2*G)

R=H*E

Z=21

G=(H+1)/2

S=A*E

H=(I+1)/2+1

T=C+B

I=J*(5+6)

U=26

J=(K/9)+0

V=B*B

K=L-(5*2)

W=24

L=M+(3*2)

X=N+D


Amia went on, "now I'll try these parts of the code to decode some of the message.":

17+7+2 16+P+Y 10+15+23 U+16+2+16 8+N

2+19+2+25+8+17+15+14 17+15 17+7+2

U+N+3+2+14+4+14+15+U+N+3

Sabria quickly latched the grapple pencil to an umbrella's structure, using it to help herself climb up the fencing around the pool. The stone henchmen had indeed run out of ammo and switched to charging at Sabria.

Amia went on, "_P_ matches with the word spy.":

17+7+2 S+P+Y 10+15+23 U+16+2+16 8+N

2+19+2+25+8+17+15+14 17+15 17+7+2

U+N+3+2+14+4+14+15+U+N+3

She continued as the elevator opened up to the ground floor, "now I'll change each 16 to the letter S":

17+7+2 S+P+Y 10+15+23 U+S+2+S 8+N

2+19+2+25+8+17+15+14 17+15 17+7+2

U+N+3+2+14+4+14+15+U+N+3

Sabria chuckled as she pushed off of the fencing to get one of the robot statues to crash straight through it instead when it missed. The robot fell to the ground below, crashing into pieces.

Amia deduced in the empty food court, "my parents must've informed the police about me going missing in their eyes. US_S matches the word uses.":

17+7+2 S+P+Y 10+15+23 U+S+E+S 8+N

2+19+2+25+8+17+15+14 17+15 17+7+2

U+N+3+2+14+4+14+15+U+N+3

She continued, "now I'll change each 2 to the letter E.":

17+7+2 S+P+Y 10+15+23 U+S+E+S 8+N

E+19+E+25+8+17+15+14 17+15 17+7+E

U+N+3+E+14+4+14+15+U+N+3

Sabria flipped over another statue with help from the grappling hook to kick it by surprise to join the smashed one below. The robot grabbed her leg, but Sabria spun around and kicked it away with the other. There were 6 more left as the umbrella almost snapped off.

Amia figured, "you're looking at those letters backwards…it's referring to the biggest range of numbers in common, from N to A. Yes!":


A=8*(5-4)

M=(20-3)-4

Y=22

N=20

B=(12-7)+0

N=20

Z=21

C=(3*2)*2

O=B*D

D=(2*2)-1

P=6

E=10+(-2+-6)

Q=D*E*D

F=2+(2*4)

R=H*E

G=(7+1)/2

S=A*E

H=(11+1)/2+1

T=C+B

I=1*(5+6)

U=26

J=(9/9)+0

V=B*B

K=19-(5*2)

W=24

L=13+(3*2)

X=N+D


Amia went on as her stomach started growling, "now I'll use the calculator to calculate the answers to the first set of equations, and rewrite the equations by using other letters.":


A=8

M=13

Y=22

N=20

B=5

N=20

Z=21

C=12

O=15

D=3

P=6

E=2

Q=18

F=10

R=14

G=4

S=16

H=7

T=17

I=11

U=26

J=1

V=25

K=9

W=24

L=19

X=23


Sabria called out, "come and get me!"

She spun back around to flip over one robot and kick 2 at once in front of her into the breaking umbrella. The umbrella snapped off while Sabria jumped off of the fence.

She realized they were robots from the circuitry below and had an idea.

Sabria kicked the umbrella's stem off while unhooking the hook. She tumbled back to the ground as the umbrella with now 3 robots onboard tumbled into the pool. The impact and the robots' weight sent them to their doom, on the bottom of the pool. Sabria saw the 3 remaining robots charge at her in shock.

Amia figured, "what do we get now?":

T+H+E S+P+Y F+O+X U+S+E+S A+N

E+L+E+V+A+T+O+R T+O T+H+E

U+N+D+E+R+G+R+O+U+N+D

She realized in amazement and horror, "the Spy Fox uses an elevator to the underground. That code key works! It's more specifically underground tunnels. That means that there's a network of tunnels under the hotel. That's what they meant when they wrote "we're underneath the hotel" in their letter! But which elevator?!"

Sabria noticed to her relief the umbrella on its side.

She shot the hook at its edge while leaping over the pool. The robots jumped after her and barely missed. Their circuits were fried as they fell to the depths. The hook slipped off of the umbrella. Sabria quickly used the hook to latch onto the door to avoid falling in herself.

Amia figured, "the scanner function."

Sabria, out of breath, came back to the food court. She checked, "are you ok?"

Amia summarized, "other than hunger, I'm fine. I figured out the message."

Sabria checked, "what does it say?"

Amia revealed, "there's an underground maze below, and the Spy Fox uses an elevator to get there, but how do we scan them all while being able to defend ourselves?"

Sabria suggested, "maybe we can make it less tiring for both of us." She told her own idea to Amia.

Amia decided in mixed feelings, "it'll work. If we can save your parents, we'll survive ourselves."

Sabria scanned the elevators on the 1st floor, Amia scanned the elevators on the 2nd floor, and both took turns scanning the elevators on the 3rd floor.

When they got up to the 3rd floor, it was already dark out. After they scanned the last elevator there, they heard footsteps coming closer.

Amia wondered in fear, "what is that?!"

Sabria suggested, "let's go in here. This one has a deeper shaft than the others. I just scanned it. Hurry!" She and Amia headed for the elevator, but too late. Even though they got in fine, a bomb was lying on its floor ticking.

Amia called out, "no!"

The elevator door suddenly shut closed as she and Sabria pounded their fists madly against it in horror. The bomb started releasing knockout gas.

Sabria instructed in alarm, "hold your breath!"

She checked for a way out and found a trapdoor above. Sabria quickly used the grappling hook to make a cable upward. She motioned for Amia to go up, Amia quickly climbing through it.

Sabria retracted the hook when Amia was safely out, near passing out. Sabria used her remaining strength to retract the hook and bring herself through the trapdoor with help from Amia pulling her up. They saw a masked figure in dark clothing close by.

The figure revealed to their horror, "I'm the Spy Fox…in fact, I used that box to lead you to your doom!" Sabria shot the grappling hook to the cables above, its own cable camouflaged.

Amia asked, "what happened here?!"

The Spy Fox chuckled evilly at this. She revealed, "I closed down the hotel, but I thought it'd be much more fitting to put your parents themselves back in their room and the manager at his office, all tied and gagged…when you'll be heading for death!"

Sabria asked, "and the tunnel complex was also made up?" The Spy Fox nodded as Sabria quickly kicked the Spy Fox off the elevator by surprise in anger. Sabria called out, "find the captives! Go!" The Spy Fox quickly shot with deadly accuracy at the hook's cable, sending Sabria and the Spy Fox down towards the bottom of the elevator shaft to Amia's horror.

Amia cried out, "Sabria!" She checked the elevator below and realized the knockout gas had completely filled it. The Spy Fox took out her remote and used it to self destruct the elevator to Sabria's deep shock. Amia quickly jumped off and barely grabbed onto the edge of a nearby vent. The elevator blew to pieces below as Amia started losing her grip.

Sabria cried out, "Amia!" She angrily punched the remote out of the Spy Fox's hands, the remote descending faster towards the bottom. The Spy Fox responded with a kick towards the chest, Sabria flipping over it with help from kicking her leg. Amia kicked off of the wall and grabbed onto the loosening cable.

Amia protested, "I can't leave you to die!" She wrapped it around the Spy Fox like a lasso and swung into her.

The Spy Fox responded, "until next time." She activated rocket boots, hovering through an open vent to the outside as though it was a backdoor.

Sabria called out, "let go!" Sabria and Amia used the loose cable to swing back onto the 3rd floor, before they were hurled at the open pulleys above. The Spy Fox used a small razor cutter blade to cut off the cable on the way out.

Amia realized with mixed feelings, "that was close."

Sabria figured with a sigh, "well, at least we saved the hostages." Sabria went back to her room to find another bomb to her horror, counting down from 10 minutes. Her parents were nowhere to be found…she checked everywhere to no success. She cried out, "no!" Teary eyed, Sabria ran for the exit. Fortunately, Amia found the manager and let him go.

Amia demanded in worry, "what happened?!"

Sabria pointed out, "right now, there's a bomb that'll destroy the entire building in minutes! Run!" They ran for the exit, the hotel exploding in flames behind them. The explosion knocked them against the sidewalk. They were knocked out cold.

When the 2 woke up, they found themselves in a fancy bedroom. Amia and Sabria were in a large bed. The entire room had a red, purple, green, and blue color scheme around them. Sabria wondered, "what's going on?" Amia searched the room in deeper amazement.

Amia pointed out, "there's an entire wardrobe full of expensive clothes…a T.V. set…a wet bar fridge…arcade games…and two separate bathrooms. Wherever we are, we're in good company." A third door suddenly opened. Sabria sat up in mixed feelings as a man dressed entirely in black with black sunglasses entered the room.

He introduced himself to them as he held up his I.D., "my codename is Labyrinth. I'm the official director of the Spy Institute of Knowledge."

Sabria asked, "is that the agency my parents work for?"

Labyrinth chuckled. He commented, "you catch on quick."

Amia checked in fear, "where's my parents? Why am I here too?"

Labyrinth figured, "I assumed you also knew about Sabria's parents working for us, so we had to bring you both into hiding to protect you…at least, until you're properly trained."

Sabria protested, "until?! We didn't even know this spy company, or my parents working for them until quite recently."

Labyrinth revealed to their shock, "you were in a coma for weeks. We had to make a cover story that you 2 were assumed killed to avoid the Spy Fox going after Amia's family…along with your parents."

Amia asked, "you did what?!"

Labyrinth insisted with a sigh, "I know you want to return to society, but the whole reason why we sent your parents there was to motivate you to work for us in exchange for their return. We didn't know it'd be a package deal. After physical tests are done, we'll start the training…so you can truly be ready."

Sabria checked with disgust, "and if Amia leaves before the training?"

Labyrinth sighed. He went on, "you don't understand. We have to be sure she's not an enemy spy herself. If she were to leave now, it'd make us think she was one automatically. However, Sabria…your parents told us a great deal about you, and I don't think you'll turn on us if you want your parents alive."

Amia decided teary eyed, "right now, I'm without a family of my own as well. Besides, I want to help my friend…so both of us can return home."

Labyrinth gave a cold smile, with almost no feeling. He suggested, "you might as well make yourselves at home…you'll be here for a while." He left them to their thoughts.

Amia pointed out, determined to try to feel better, "they wouldn't do a suicide mission with people as important as your parents."

Sabria figured with partial relief, "yeah, they're probably being kept alive for some exchange…and the Spy Institute of Knowledge most likely wants us to save them before it happens while chasing the Spy Fox down to delay them long enough for it." They held hands, looking hopeful at each other.

Amia assured her, "we saved a hostage before…we can do it again."

Sabria suggested, "if we go back to sleep, we might realize this is all a bad dream."

Amia remarked, "haven't we done enough of that?"

Sabria figured with a chuckle, "true. Maybe something on T.V. will help us calm down further…but I miss them."

Amia replied with a sigh, "same here." Sabria picked up a nearby remote and started flipping through the channels.

She pointed out, "at least we're together…to help each other get through this."

Amia encouraged her, "that's the spirit! There's hope for us yet…long as we believe in it."

The End?